Federal Politics


Pursuit of justice, not a political snow-job

Paedophilia and the associated sexual abuse and exploitation of children inspire the intense and immediate disgust of all civilised people. If there was an inverted hierarchy, then the perpetrators would dwell in the cesspit of the human condition.

It is quite obviously a no-brainer that when addressing an issue such as paedophilia we must seek whatever is within our power to stop those who seek pleasure from destroying children, and seek justice for those who have suffered because of this perversion.

The pursuit of the criminal perpetrators must not be limited to one church or institution. There cannot be the differentiation that means one person's crime is somehow less or greater than another's when it is the same action of an adult sexually exploiting a child.

If paedophilia and sexual abuse occurred in a Catholic school it must be investigated and brought to justice. If it occurred in a juvenile detention centre or in a youth group, our law must be diligently upheld. If it is condoned or overlooked in a community or if there is implicitly a blind eye turned by reason of political correctness or cultural hesitation, then we are not fulfilling the task that we state is imperative.

If a royal commission becomes an investigation into just one facet of a problem, when we all know it has many, then we are all guilty of knowingly turning a blind eye to this evil and destructive act of child molestation.

The investigation will be protracted because it will be massive or it will be incomplete. We should be warned at the start that the person who states ''Why was my instance of assault less commendable of investigation than another's'' will have a valid point of disparity in the justice displayed to them.


As an anecdote, I have tried to pursue the issues surrounding the pack rape of Annette Harding at the John Oxley Detention Centre in the 1980s. This issue was at one instance denied leave in the Senate and at a later date voted down in the Senate. There are many instances such as this which will now, hopefully, see the light of day.

Unfortunately, nothing is ever going to rid us of human weakness and associated evil, no more than investigating hate will rid us of murder. However, it requires that we do all in our power as if it were a possibility.

This investigation must look at the causes that incite then encourage the seeds of future fault in the mind that has the weakness to sexually abuse children. The inquiry must unashamedly interrogate all venues where there is a clear incidence of child abuse, with no excuse for culture, colour nor creed. Most importantly, the inquiry must pursue all reasonable leads of paedophilia and related child abuse.

The inquiry will have to go into the complex area of those with disabilities who so often are victims who are at a disadvantage in articulating what happened to them.

The inquiry will require real determination and political courage and would be a remarkable about-face in the same week where the internet filter to screen out a wide range of websites that peddle this material, was abandoned.

The recent move from a broader form of internet filtering to try and minimise the individual's initial contact with child pornography is perplexing. This particular voyeuristic criminality can be the inception of later child molestation and relies on the disgusting exploitation of the child. We as a nation are not totally focused on the task of stopping the exploitation of children when we step around these deplorable acts.

So what will be the outcome? Justice for those afflicted by the criminality conducted by individuals is a minimum. An honest appraisal of all the venues and reason as to where paedophilia and child abuse occurs or is incited is a goal. The strength and honesty to pursue the course is at this point an aspiration, but without it, nothing much will change.

Finally, any inquiry will have to allow more than politicians to inspire the terms of reference so as to be instrumental in the tenor of investigation. Politicians are no more expert in the breadth of the issue than any other particular concerned group.

At its worst the inquiry will turn into a partisan witch-hunt or, as equally noxious, an amorphous politically correct snow job. At its best, many who in the future would have been destroyed by this insidious evil will be spared.

Barnaby Joyce is the Nationals' Senate leader and the opposition spokesman for regional development, local government and water.


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